Mrs. Dutta Roy of Gokhale Memorial Girls Hostel - our head matron, who referred herself as the MOTHER of GMGS. The reason I bring her up is because I very recently received an email from my cousin who mentioned having run into Mrs. Dutta Roy recently in Kolkata. She seems to be very lonely, having no one to take care of her other than a sister in the U.S. whom she is financially dependent on and has to live with her out of no choice of her own. She now wants to look for a place to stay in Kolkata and figure out a way to earn her own living. My cousin will be helping her and has asked me for some financial help which I will be more than willing to extend. After all I did spend more time with her than I ever have with my own mother.
The email took me back to the hot and humid Saturday afternoons, where we all lay in our 'girdle beds', too full of the chicken stew lunch to even move a limb. I can still here the mechanical screeching of the fans and the melodious "mathar ghono chool jokhon...morubhumi hoye jaye" followed by "shonibarer barbela...kyaaaNch" playing on the radio. We had not television in the hostel back then and the radio was the closest we got to entertainment. We would wait all week to grab the little black box on the weekends to listen to the songs of the year's biggest hit - QSQT. Aamir Khan was 'THE' man back then and his picture postcards were our most valuable possessions.
I cannot believe how time has changed and I've come such a long way in my life. My art teachers 'Practish' and 'Murgi' (I hope they are not reading this ;) would probably drop dead if they heard I had ended up being a Graphic Designer. I still remember scoring 8 out of 100 in one of my art exams. I was asked to draw a scene in the living room and my teachers had not been able to differentiate between wall, floor and ceiling in my sketch.
There is just so much I want to write about growing up in a boarding school. The most I miss is the friendships we shared. We were an extended family and we spent more time with each other than we did with our own families. Everyone had a reason for being in a boarding school at such an early age, and that reason made our bonds stronger. However much we loved staying with friends, we missed family big time. I still remember being admitted to Pratt Memorial hostel at the age of 5 and my very first day there I remember telling my aunt who had gone to drop me off, that I feel a pain in my chest. I wish I could have shed a tear that day - it might have eased the pain I felt.
I'm glad I received the email about Mrs. Dutta Roy. It made me think and thank a lot of people who played a major part in my growing up. Gokhale Memorial Girls School and hosterl - I shall always remember you.